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Foundation Announces First Youth Heritage Ambassador

The Foundation is proud to introduce its first Youth Heritage Ambassador—Aysha Wills. After the horrific events of the 2004 tsunami in South-East Asia, Aysha decided that she wanted to do something to help those who had survived the devastation. As a talented musician herself, she decided to approach her flute teacher with the idea of organizing a small benefit recital. Aysha’s passion and dedication to the cause inspired all those around her. Aysha’s dream of a “small recital” was transformed into the “Higher Ground” concert, which brought together the talents of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Senator Tommy Banks and other musicians and artists to raise over $600,000 for Tsunami relief.

In her role as the Foundation’s first Youth Heritage Ambassador, Aysha will bring the Foundation’s vision of heritage to youth across Alberta. Articulate and passionate, Aysha’s commitment to heritage will inspire all those around her. In her first address at the Foundation’s recent Donor Recognition Reception, Aysha reminded all of us about the vital importance of knowing our own heritage:

There was an island off the coast of Sumatra, which was right in the path of the tsunami, where it was feared that everyone had died because it was hit by the full force of the wave. When rescue teams finally arrived, they were amazed to find that no one on the island had been killed. Upon talking to the villagers, they discovered that they had known that the wave was coming well in advance, and had immediately fled to higher ground.

How did they know? They knew because the knowledge of how to recognize the approach of a tsunami had been handed down through generations since a previous tsunami over a hundred years ago. Their parents had told them, “When the sea disappears, you must run to the hills.” This knowledge saved over 1,000 lives that day.

It is so vital that [our] history and knowledge is not lost forever, because as we should learn from the tragedy that devastated the people of South Asia, if we don’t learn from our past, it is only a matter of time before we too are washed away.

Watch Aysha Wills' Alberta Online Encyclopedia Launch Speech (WMV)

Read Aysha Wills' Alberta Online Encyclopedia Launch Speech (.doc)